President Donald Trump on Saturday flatly “corrected” the nation’s top infectious disease expert after Dr. Anthony Fauci explained how Europe has been more successful at containing COVID-19 than the U.S.
“Wrong!” Trump fired off in a tweet from his golf resort in Potomac Falls, Virginia. The president immediately again brought up more testing in the U.S., which he has claimed “creates” more cases, arguing that the situation only looks worse here because more data is gathered.
The U.S. leads the world with more than 154,000 COVID-19 deaths. That’s nearly 23% of the 682,000 global death toll in a country with just 4% of the world’s population.
The U.S. has conducted more tests than any other nation, but rates fourth for testing per million in a ranking of 14 nations with significant outbreaks. The nation’s positivity rating within those tests show that COVID-19 cases are surging.
Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, testified before the House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis on Friday.
He said America’s economic and activity shutdowns didn’t go nearly as far as Europe’s did — and that states lifted restrictions and allowed businesses to reopen too soon because cases of the virus were still high.
“If you look at what happened in Europe, when they shut down or locked down or went to shelter in place — however you want to describe it — they really did it to the tune of about 95%-plus of the country,” Fauci testified. The U.S., on the other hand, “really functionally shut down only about 50% in the sense of the totality of the country,” he added.
When restrictions were lifted in the U.S. the virus transmission rates were still significantly higher than Europe’s. “We started off with a very difficult baseline of transmission that was going on at the time that we tried to open up the country,” Fauci testified.
He also said some states did not “strictly” comply with recommended health guidelines, while others ignored them as people were “congregating in crowds and not wearing masks.”
As an illustration of the consequences, Fauci pointed to the chart below, which was displayed by committee head and House Minority Whip Rep. Jim Clyburn (D-S.C.). The top line of the chart represents the trajectory of the virus in the U.S.; the lines far below represent cases in Europe, Canada and Japan.
When the chart was shown as Fauci spoke, Trump went on the attack in a tweet, again blaming the increase in U.S. cases on tests, and calling the numbers “Lamestream media gold.”
As of Saturday, the U.S. recorded 4.6 million confirmed cases of COVID-19.
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